Last week, we brought you some choice selections from cryptic, hand-scribbled memos Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy wrote to curriculum writers preparing the latest draft of social studies standards (“More McLeroy Malarkey, Part 1”). Here is Part 2.
To the “World History Studies” writing team, McLeroy suggests a few additions to the timeline of important events and people, including this one:
“Abram called at ~2000 BCE”
The most surprising part of this particular comment may be that McLeroy opts for the modern academic designation BCE (meaning “Before Common Era”), rather than the traditional BC (or “Before Christ”). In contrast, current SBOE chair Gail Lowe in her instructions to the board called for a return to the “traditional nomenclature BC/AD” because it has been used “for centuries in Western civilization.” A cynical person might wonder why McLeroy has declared war on “Christ” in the social studies standards, but I digress…
The most obvious problem with the inclusion of this new standard is the “call” language McLeroy proposes. The very notion that Abram was “called” by God is a religious belief (taken from Genesis 12:1-20) and is thus unsuitable for highlighting in a history course. Moreover, scholars propose a wide variety of dates for the life of Abram — and many biblical scholars question whether a historical figure named Abram/Abraham existed at all. In any case, there is little consensus on the matter, and World History standards are no place to propose firm dates when the scholarly community disagrees.
Speaking of slipping more religion into social studies, McLeroy recommends a brand new standard in the “United States Government” strand:
“(B) Add a new standard that describes the Jude0-Christian Bible influence on the founding documents.”
This is a tricky one — all the more reason why it would be better if a non-historian like McLeroy avoided making such suggestions. On the one hand, most historical scholars who work in this area would not dispute the fact that the Bible and Christian doctrine were a significant influence on many of the Founders. If McLeroy intends Texas classrooms to include the “Judeo-Christian Bible” as part of an even-handed, balanced account of the various ideologies that informed the Founders and influenced the nation’s founding, then we have no beef with such a discussion (apart from the deplorable grammar McLeroy proposes in this standard).
But there is reason to suspect otherwise, most notably the earlier advice from McLeroy encouraging committee members to “pay close attention to… David Barton.” Barton’s view of the Bible’s influence on the founders is anything but even-handed and balanced. Much has already been written on the bias and historical inaccuracies in Barton’s work — and TFN will soon release more evidence of these problems with Barton’s “scholarship” — but suffice to say here that almost all reputable scholars of the period would not describe Barton’s view of the Bible’s influence on the founding documents as mainstream scholarship. And if a Barton-esque treatment is what McLeroy has in mind for Texas textbooks and classrooms, then language like this in our social studies standards will surely mean problems down the road when textbooks are adopted.
And finally, a classic McLeroy-ism:
“Pay attention to ‘…the never ending battle for truth, justice and the American Way.’
Introduction to Superman”
I’ll give McLeroy this much — the man knows his 1950’s television. That quote is accurate and well-sourced. If only the rest of his comments were so reliable.
25 thoughts on “More McLeroy Malarkey, Part 2”
McLeroy is quoting TV and cartoon characters, How embarrassing. I can’t believe he would say something so sophomoric…on the other hand , yes I can.
Hey McLeroy, just stand up and tell everyone you are deluded and incompetent. Don’t make people guess.
He is a really scary guy.
Yeah, but I bet he doesn’t know anything about the famous mystery surrounding George Reeves’ death. Lois does.
The Mainstream Baptist of Oklahoma blog is especially good today (first two posted stories):
McLeroy is making more sense every day. Abram, Superman, Batman, hell, include them all, Alice in Wonderland, too, and the Cheshire cat. I never really understood erudition until McElroy’s doodles were published. And dont forget the red queen…she is famous in evolutionary theory (really!).
Great Caesar’s Ghost! It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
The oldest Biblical figure we know for certain existed is King David (of David & Goliath fame) because David (or Dovid) is mentioned in sources other than the Bible. But before David, no Biblical characters’ existence has been verified to the best of my knowledge: not Abraham (Abram), not Moses, not Joseph. In fact, not even Jesus’ existence has been historically verified. But I digress.
I wonder what Mr. McLeroy means by “founding documents”? Does he mean documents connected with the founding fathers? I’m afraid Mr. Mc would be terribly saddened to learn of the Jefferson Bible which is Deistic and not very Christian at all.
The Superman quote is cute although I don’t know what it has to do with his earlier remarks except that maybe he thinks the quote will lend more weight to them.
“The oldest Biblical figure we know for certain existed is King David (of David & Goliath fame) because David (or Dovid) is mentioned in sources other than the Bible.”
Well, one debatable source, the Tel Dan Stele. [/nitpick]
One of our local odd folk had a letter published in the local paper recently calling for our schools to teach students all about the references to God and Christianity that are in our Constitution. The writer was from Hermleigh, Texas, which I’m pretty sure is under the same constitution that the rest of the US is. I didn’t have the heart to reply and ask him to list all those references ….
I know about the rock that was found with David’s name on it. It is assumed to be authentic but I can’t say with authority that it has been thus verified. I then googled “David And Goliath: Archaeological Evidence” and found some interesting stuff from BBC (which is not known to be a conservative Christian news source). In summary, it is fairly certain that King David was a real historical person. However, the incident with Goliath and other Biblical details about David are impossible to prove or disprove.
Sorry, I got off-topic but I felt compelled to rise to the challenge that was presented to me.
My understanding is that the only reference to God in the Constitution appears in the signatory date where it is written: “Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven”. The appearance of ‘Lord” may or may not reflect the Christian faith of the signers of the Constitution and does not prove they were conservative Christians in today’s contemporary understanding of conservative Christianity. The appearance of ‘Lord’ may only reflect the conventional dating tradition of the day.
There is no reference to Christianity in the Constitution.
I found an article in a google search titled “The United States Government is in no way founded on the Christian religion” by Jim Walker. I cut and pasted this paragraph from the notes at the end of the article:
“The end of the Constitution records the year of its ratification, “the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.” Although, indeed, it uses the word “Lord”, it does not refer to Jesus but rather to the dating method. Incredibly, some Christians attempt to use this as justification for a Christian derived Constitution. The term simply conveys a written English form of the Latin, Anno Domini (AD), which means the year of our Lord (no, it does not mean After Death). This scripted form served as a common way of dating in the 1700s. The Constitution also uses many pagan words such as January (from the two-headed Roman god, Janus), and Sunday (from the word Sunne, which refers to the Saxon Sun god). Can you imagine the ludicrous position of someone trying to argue for the justification of a pagan god based Constitution? The same goes to any Christian who attempts to use a dating convention as an argument against the Constitution’s secular nature, and can only paint himself as naive, or worse, as dishonest and deceiving.”
This wouldn’t be the first instance where we’ve seen conservative Christians acting ‘dishonestly’ and ‘deceiving.’ Dishonesty and deception seem to have become highly respected values to conservative Christians.
These issues are all cause for concern, but did anyone notice that they seem to have crossed Sigmund Freud off the Psychology course? Am I just not understanding their edits? Can this be true?
Hi Rebecca. I didn’t know about that. I can think of a couple of possible reasons. Although Freud is remembered as the father of pyschoanalysis, a lot of his ideas actually turned out to be incorrect. As a result of the psychologists who came after him, the field has evolved light years beyond where he was.
Alternatively, if the fundies on the SBOE had anything to do with the deletion, you need to know that Christian fundamentalism has no respect for psychotherapy. It is viewed as a secular religion that was fomented by the atheist Jew Freud and that is now an alternative religion in direct competition with “true” Christianity for the hearts and minds of people. I have not checked lately, but Christian bookstores used to have books that laid out their thinking on this subject—mostly silly stuff. Basically, they believe that if one TRULY accepts Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour, all of their emotional problems will dissolve away in an instant, which is of course not true as a practical matter. However, the fundies in general are committed to attacking modern psychology at every turn and keeping as many emotionally sick people as possible from ever entering a psychologist or psychiatrist’s office. So, it makes sense to me that they would have an interest in making sure that public school students never read about people like Freud. Personally, I wish right-wing whackoes like Jim Adkisson would run to the nearest psychologist’s couch they can find—and a little Prozac might be needed as well.
Rebecca, I agree with Charles. Conservative Christians hold Psychology with the same regard they hold Witchcraft and Sorcery. In fact, to them, they’re all basically the same. So it follows that Sigmund Freud would not meet their standard of acceptance.
I understand the view they have of Freud, but it seems like such a shocking omission from a historical perspective. Although Freud has his limitations, he was the founder of modern psychology, and many of the terms and concepts he developed continue to be used today, even if he was limited and mistaken in some respects. Eliminating Freud from a study of the discipline of psychology and psychoanalysis because of errors in his theory would be like deleting Thomas Jefferson from a history of American democracy because he was a slaveholder.
What you write is all very true, Rebecca. But the SBOE is not interested in “historical perspective.” They are only interested in a historical perspective only within the context of Christianity.
No offense! but I’m afraid your analogy with Thomas Jefferson doesn’t apply. The SBOE wants to revise history to say that all the founding fathers were conservative Christians; thus, they are making Jefferson in their image: a conservative Christian. This despite the fact that Jefferson edited his Bible to exclude any reference to a trinity or Jesus’ divinity. That fact they ignore.
Y’all need to get it in your heads that the only thing that matters to the SBOE and the TX GOP is Jesus and bringing America to Jesus.
I would vote for you and campaign for you Rebecca, but I don’t live in Texas.
Rebecca: I really hope you are what you seem to be, an intellectual with a genuine interest in educating our children. Please search out others of your ilk to complement your efforts.
I do have a genuine interesting in educating our young people. I’ve been teaching at Texas State University for 28 years.
The strong anti-intellectual strain in the Republican party and their publicity organs (Fox News and much of talk radio) has resulted in a devaluing of teachers and education. This is a terrible loss for our young people, our economy, and our society. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. If rational people just stop and think, they will realize that education is the very foundation of democracy.
The Republican party is fractured, and we must take advantage of this split. Older style Eisenhower Republicans are embarrassed and disturbed by the extremism, and some can be won over to a more reasonable approach. The religious fanatics are not necessarily in accord with fiscal conservatives or libertarian-leaning Republicans. We must emphasize values that appeal to a broad range of reasonable people and marginalize the crazy flat-earthers, birthers, and tea-baggers as the hysterical, emotional fringe that they represent.
Rebecca: I agree with you wholeheartedly. I just hope the conservatives in Texas, and there are (too) many, listen to you and see education from your viewpoint, too. We need some logic and rationality on SBOE, not the ramblings of the current kooks.
Religious fanatics and fiscal conservatives are often not in accord, that’s true. This was brought to light especially during the Terri Schiavo fuss. But Republicans will hold their noses, band together, and vote for Republicans no matter what since Democrats are viewed as atheist communists.
There are no intellectual conservatives anymore, not since the death of William Buckley. Intellectualism and objective analysis is seen anymore by Republicans as liberal, elitist, and ungodly. Since not thinking and just reacting are easy and require no effort – the path of least resistance – Republicanism is gaining support. There is a groundswell of backlash brewing against Obama and Democrats, not just here in TX but nationwide. I don’t know how in the world so many of you have missed it.
I have pointed out before that the radio talkers with the highest ratings are of the far right: Savage, Rush, Dobbs, Beck, Ingraham, and that nobody on the other side or the middle has ratings that even come close to theirs. Of course, I was ignored.
So, Ms. Bell-Metereau, you have my support – and my sympathy. It’s going to be an uphill battle for you here in Texas and, of course, nobody knows that better than you.
We don’t have to convince all those people, just the 4% plus one who are wavering in the middle. That’s what we must focus on. We can rant and rave, or we can concentrate on how to change things. It’s not a matter of missing what is going on. It’s a matter of figuring out how to change it.
Is 4% plus 1 enough to make a difference?
Historically speaking, the twelve counties in District 5 were 4 percentage points short of a majority for Democrats in the last election. Mercer ran unopposed except for a libertarian. So indeed, if we can get 4 percent plus one voter, we can win.
Btw, what did you mean by “rant and rave”? Was that remark directed at me?
“Rant and rave” is one of those old-fashioned cliches that I have always liked. Only about half of your comment was a rant, and probably none of it was exactly raving. But I stick by the point that we need to refocus our energies on what to do about the situation. More and more stories are coming out about how the Republicans are deeply split and turning on each other. Democrats have not been famous for unity, but maybe now is a good time to give it a try. And we should also be the open door for those moderates rejected by their fellow Republicans. We can preach to the choir, inspire the choir, and expand the choir. Let’s do more of the latter two options.
It’s your opinion that my posting was a “rant,” and it is rude of you to dismiss it as such. You don’t win support by belittling the comments of people who would have supported you. If you can point to where I have been misleading or not factual, then that is a valid critique. Otherwise, your remark is just a “put-down.”
Republicans are split, yes, but only over some issues. And just because they are split doesn’t necessarily mean they are turning to the DNC. If that’s what people are thinking, the facts do not support their opinion. Case in point: In the NY23rd, the Republican dropped out so the GOP is advising people to vote for the Conservative candidate, not the Democratic candidate. In fact, the GOP was advising this before the Republican dropped out.
There is much disappointment among Republicans over the GOP; how it is not conservative enough for them. Consider the lukewarm reaction to their own candidate in 2008, Sen. John McCain. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm among Republicans because McCain was seen as too much of a maverick and too moderate. There was residual resentment among them because of his criticism of the Religious Right in 2000. There was more enthusiasm for his VP choice, Sarah Palin, as she was seen as “one of us” among conservative Christians.
My point? Disillusioned Republicans are more likely to start a new, more conservative party than they are to vote DNC. For those of you who doubt me, have you talked with Texas Republicans lately? Did you find the majority of them are LESS conservative than they used to be? If so, you are in a different city in Texas than I am. Even educated Republicans had bought into the “death panel” scare tactic.